The Disaster! Diaries: Making a New Broadway Musical (Part 2)

Seth Rudetsky   The Disaster! Diaries: Making a New Broadway Musical (Part 2)
 
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Actor-writer-music supervisor and your am-AH-zing Playbill.com columnist Seth Rudetsky chronicles the making of his Broadway show Disaster! A New Musical. From day one of rehearsal all the way to opening night, check in for regular updates — stories, backstage photos, videos and more — from Seth on the realization of his Broadway dream.

REHEARSALS

JANUARY 27, 2015: 10:50 PM
DAY 18, REHEARSAL
We are officially in the theatre! Yes! The first amazing part is the convenience! I can take the express right near my apartment, exit on 41st street and the theater is a half block away. I can't tell you how delicious that is! When I got there I had a fancy-shmancy interview with a reporter from the New York Times who's doing a feature on me for the Sunday Arts and Leisure Section. We were sitting in the balcony looking down at the set and I couldn't believe all of it was really happening. I was so emotional that throughout the interview I was constantly breaking into tears. I assume the title of the article will be "Emotionally Unstable Artist Tries to Appear Stable. Fails." After my interview/sobbing session, the cast met in the orchestra section of the theater. Here's a pic with no filter.

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Look how cool the colors are! Then we all came onstage to do a walk through of the set and the backstage area. There are so many principals that are major Broadway veterans, but there are a lot of people making the Broadway debut, too! They were very excited!!! They all gathered together onstage and took this photo: Olivia Phillip, Lacretta Nicole, Maggie McDowell, Travis Kent and Baylee Litrell!

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Then we started teching. Today was a short day…only 1:30 to 9:30. Seriously! Many days we’re going til 11:30 or midnight. It was so much fun!! And we got through everything we had scheduled! I play a "disaster expert" and make my first appearance in the opening number. I'm the author of a "self-published disaster handbook," and during this rehearsal, I used my real prop for the first time. I love it! Here I am modeling it with Adam Pascal who begins the song. I call this photo "Two Jews, But One Can Pass." Tune in tomorrow for tech day two!

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JANUARY 26, 2015: 10:15 PM
DAY 17, REHEARSAL

Well, today was a big day; It was the last day in the rehearsal studio. Yes, it's really cool that we're moving into the theater (!!!!!), but there was something so amazing about being in a little rehearsal studio. Everyone hung out together in the same lounge area and, while we rehearsed, we were all in the same room creating together at the same time. Now, we're transitioning to the second part of the creative process: We add the cool things like the set and the band and the costumes and the lights, but I'm going to miss the musical theatre summer camp aspect of the last few weeks.

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Adam Pascal and Kerry Butler

In other news, we had our first birthday! When we started rehearsals, we had the option of signing up for the birthday club. You write down your birthday, what you want your birthday treat to be, and then you're in charge of buying the next person's treat. Well, our first birthday was JoAnn Hunter, who is our choreographer. She wrote down that she wanted a cake from Amy's Bread (deliciousness) and I took a photo of her eating it.

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JoAnn M. Hunter

I'm always obsessed with a size zero eating something fattening. And especially JoAnn. During rehearsal, she eats nuts. Or should I say "nut." She literally will have one (1) nut sitting on a napkin that she'll eat at some point during a long rehearsal period. Not joking!!!!

At the end of the day, we filmed some short videos for social media. I think they turned out really amazingly and here are some shots of us filming. I don't want to give away the plots, but they include some amazing Xanadu and Rent references from the original stars.

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Adam Pascal, Roger Bart, Max Crumm and Jennifer Simard

James went to the theater in the middle of everything being loaded in to check out the scene. He texted me photos of the costume racks with our names!

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At the end of the day, everything from the rehearsal room was taken to the theater. So now, the room where we rehearsed for all these weeks sits empty. Farewell!

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JANUARY 25, 2015
DAY 16, REHEARSAL

Well, it happened. I got sick. Not the flu. But a big, fat cold. It's going thru the cast like colds normally do on Broadway, and the good news is it's hitting us before previews. It mainly means that during the run-through yesterday I sounded like an amazing combination of Stritch, Lauren Bacall and then finally Marcel Marceau (because I literally just moved my mouth with no sound coming out). Regardless, we ran the entire show, and it was very exciting. James came to me with tears in his eyes and said he'll remember this as the day the show totally came together. Our cousin, Jimmy, is visiting from Wisconsin and loved meeting our cast members. Not because they're Broadway stars, but because they star in TV shows he obsessively watches. Here's Faith Prince…not from Guys and Dolls but from "Melissa and Joey."

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Here's Kevin Chamberlin…not from Dirty Blond, but from "Jessie."

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And he especially loved the horrifying disaster props.

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Here's the kind of stuff I do doing rehearsals: While Casey was learning "Knock on Wood" choreography with his slot machine (aka cardboard box), I asked him to give me a sassy arabesque.

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Maggie McDowell saw me and said she is more of an actor/singer who dances and gave me this arabesque.

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Finally, Jennifer Simard took over the Disaster! instagram account and made so many hilarious videos. Here's Jack (supposedly) having a fit that rehearsal was canceled because of the blizzard.

And here's me being busted repeatedly for not being a Tony nominee. Enjoy!


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JANUARY 21, 2015: 11:27 PM
DAY 14, REHEARSAL

So, I wrote that we had to run Act Two yesterday for the design team and we b-a-r-e-l-y knew it, so today Jack went through every scene and really worked on them. It was super helpful! We're going to run the act again tomorrow, but now we'll hopefully know it much better.

On a side note, Jack has had such an amazing attitude for this whole process. The littlest thing sends me into a panic.

SETH: “Where’s my script? Has anyone seen my script?!” (Seth has been holding script the entire time.)

But Jack is so calm about anything that goes wrong. Also, he's hilarious during rehearsal.

Backstory: A character bio is a very "theater school" thing to do: It's when an actor writes a detailed summary of who their character is, why the character is at the location their at: their needs, wants, relationships with other people, past experiences etc. Well, casually, in the middle of rehearsal one day, Jack completely terrified the ensemble by casually telling them that he needed their "three page character bios." They totally believed him and were literally dumbstruck. Of course, they were so relieved/laughed so hard when Jack told them he was totally joking. I thought it was so funny, I asked Jack to do a video recreating his casual tone and their devastation. Here it is!

What I also loved it the amount of times it took Jack to film that video. No matter where I was, I kept hearing Jack starting filming and start again. I told him he had to send me a montage of all the times he tried to do it. I’m obsessed that it took Mr. Hollywood actor an entire day to get a 10second clip correct.

Speaking of me and Jack and videos, here’s one of my favorites that we made a few years ago. Watch and peace out!

Click here to read PART ONE of Seth's Disaster! Diary.

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